Insight News

Thursday
Jul 24th

Regulate health premiums or reform benefits will be lost to many


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The President and Congress successfully overhauled the healthcare system in a major way, making it possible for nearly four million Americans to get needed healthcare insurance. Despite this great – and historical – news, more work remains. One of the remaining obstacles we have to overcome is making sure health insurers can’t raise their premiums by an exorbitant amount. Without oversight on this front, the benefits of the healthcare bill will be lost to many.

Insurer Anthem Blue Cross in California plans to raise its insurance premiums by 39-percent, a move that has many customers on edge. The company has put the rate hike on hold for now, but the very thought of such an increase from any insurer has legislators moving quickly to act.  U.S Senator Diane Feinstein (D-California) and U.S Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Illinois) are pushing legislation that would prevent insurance companies from raising premiums without prior approval from a regulatory body. Some states already have this step in place, most do not.

Of course, leaders in the insurance industry say that more regulation is not the answer. They want federal officials to instead work to reduce rising medical costs, which play a part in driving up premiums. Indeed, skyrocketing medical costs is something the country needs to work on but the insurance industry premium increases do require oversight, plain and simple.

Policymakers attempted to include such legislation in the healthcare bill but that provision was ultimately cut.  Ironically, it was the threat of the rate hike from Anthem that resurrected the healthcare bill. Unfortunately, lawmakers make a grave mistake when they let the bill pass without this mandate.

If they move quickly, they have a chance to get it right. Requiring insurance companies to get prior approval before significantly raising their rates is the best approach to making sure all that health care reform promises does not ultimately fall flat.

Judge Greg Mathis became the youngest judge in Michigan’s history and was elected a Superior Court Judge for Michigan’s 36th District. He has been called upon as a regular contributor to national television programs, including “Larry King Live,” “Politically Incorrect,” CNN's "Talk Back Live,” “Showbiz Tonight” and “Extra” to discuss his opinions on complex issues of the day, such as national security, unique sentencing, affirmative action and celebrity scandals. He also offers his take on high-profile legal cases.

 

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